South Island and Aurora ‘Sup

It is an overcast Saturday as I am sat at my laptop looking out the castle window toward the Port Hills here in Canterbury.

We arrived on the South Island on Tuesday.


Tuesday had been a typically hectic morning, with a mountain of major decisions being made, and all the swearing, emotion and banter being thrown around the ChargeNet and solPR office space. I Love and loathe the chaos and energy of those offices. I know that once the network is in, I will pine for these days, but right now I am in a constant state of feeling utterly overwhelmed.

We arrived off the plane and into the open arms of our South Island alternate universe family. Dennis and Debbie have four kids like we do and we fall in between the parents and the kids in age so we get along as equals with both generations.


I’ve become incredibly close over the past couple of years with the oldest son, who is an engineer and a brainiac and suffers no fools. He’s also a pathological over achiever and engages in an extensive menu of physical pursuits from anti-gravity yoga and circus acrobatics through to hiking and camping. So, he’s pretty much the opposite of a lazy hobbit such as myself.

Alan and I laugh a lot together and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. He’s a decade younger than me so I often insinuate that I am a cougar because we do get along astonishingly well. He’s always good-natured in carrying on the joshing and jokes in this department. Phteven tells me I ought to just run away with my toy boy Alan, except, there’s no way I’d be able to keep up!

It is easy hanging out with Alan, and he takes me at face value. I asked him to be my “date” for the concert as Phteven was unenthusiastic about going.

We had a great night. He’s well known in his home-town of Christchurch and everyone who knows him partakes in similar ribbings about how active and clever and Alan-like he is. I got to meet his flat-mate and an old friend who he used to be in a cheerleading team with. Can’t go anywhere with this boy it seems. He’s basically a local celebrity.


At the concert, we got to see one of the cutest couples on the planet. Miranda and Jono are a gorgeous pair, and have been dealt a succession of blows which make me angry and sad for them. He’d only recently started a job at the adventure park that he loved, and the port hill fires destroyed the park leaving him and countless other people at a loose end. They’re still hopeful and positive and beautiful and I wish them a flood of happiness and opportunities. They have each other and are so obviously deeply in Love that you can’t help but feel a bit warmer about the whole world in their presence.

After seeing our friends we did a turn around the arena. Some fairly tipsy gentleman stopped Alan and I to ask if we met on Tinder. Without missing a beat we both said we had, and that it was our first date and we hoped it went well. The man heartily congratulated my much younger date on “getting pretty lucky there mate” and we carried on back to our seats where I haughtily reminded him that he’s punching well above his weight being out on the town with someone as fine as myself. Eye rolls and laughter ensued.

Wednesday was a blur of kid activities, meetings, people, phone calls, and social media updates. We couldn’t visit any of our local friends as it was a school and work-day.

We had dinner out with our hosts and I got to sit across from Sheree and her husband Tim. Tim is one of the driest humoured humans I’ve ever met. He takes a while to warm up to people, and he did with me. I’d confidently say we’re friends now, and he treats Sheree so well. He’s an amazing dad, a funny straight man, ballsy entrepreneur and someone I really like talking to as I often end up in stitches from the “did he actually just say that?” laughter.

After a few visits and some social media engagement I have whole-heartedly adopted Sheree. She’s the baby of the family. She’s not afraid of hustle and funny to a fault.

Thursday we were up at the crack of dawn to drive to Dunedin to meet our friends in Waitate and for Phteven to attend a meeting with Scott about EV and charging and infrastructure etc. (the usual stuff).

Jenna made us quiche and delicious Turkish coffee and incredible cake and squares. We talked about a project we are working on together and I’m really excited to seeing it come to fruition. We also found out that Phteve’s old friend Met is looking to borrow a car for a bit and would be incredibly keen to have an EV. So we’re lending her our baby bimma. Think she’ll be needing it for a month that we are not home anyway, so that went well.

After meetings, charging the car and chasing the kids around the Octagon, Phteve and I reunited and headed to the Museum. There were cameras and nerdy t-shirts for days and I felt very much at home among the crowd.

Charging station in Dunedin

Strangely though, I had no desire to initiate a conversation with anyone. Can thank my magic meds for that I think, as usually, I’d be chatting up every human friendly enough to make eye contact. That Dee is long gone now and I tend to prefer talking to people I already know.

At the event, there were canapes in the colours of the aurora. There were speeches from a very nervous and heart-meltingly humble and enthusiastic Ian and a less heartwarming, but very nice mayor.

Ian explaining the canapés to guests

It also happens, that our friend Oana is in charge of the astronomy department and planetarium, and we DM’d for a bit and got to hook up for a hug and a hi as we poured into the planetarium for the presentation on the lights.

The flight was magic. I slept through a lot of it and Adam slept through most of it, as the life and pace we maintain is overwhelming to say the least. I did watch the ghostly aurora dancing out my window and overhead as we circled it in our soon to be retired Boeing 767 aircraft.

Daniel and Phteve took pictures and marveled out the window and reminisced on our trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon territory in Canada the Christmas before last. We had three weeks as a family, no nanny, no work, no-one but us. I’d like to do that again as it remains in our hobbit heads and hearts and we all talk about it often. We are away from the children a lot more than most families, and it is nice to make them an absolute priority sometimes.

We got in at 5:00am. Paul picked us up in LOLGAS. He’s a good egg, and much, MUCH quieter than me. We dropped him at home and I carried on over to Signal hill. It was a crisp and beautiful night and the stars and lights of Dunedin twinkled in the still and frozen air.

Then we nipped back to the charger, and all fell asleep for an hour or two before our next meeting, while charging the car.

The meeting went well and Phteve will be speaking with the Otago movers and shakers in the energy sector when he drives through in April.

We then stopped in to see Allan and his business partner, sadly I did not get to see Veronica (Allan’s wife). I also missed out on seeing one of my favourite people the irrepressible Pam. She’s a firecracker and I proper Love her and all that she does to try and make the world fairer, cleaner and better.

Then we booted it back to Tai Tapu. A quick charge in Waimate was all we needed to get comfortably home.


Arrived home, I thought I had an event (which is actually next month) in North Canterbury so I drove out and back and called my husband and we had Teppenyaki with the boys.

Fell EXHAUSTED into bed and slept till 9:00am.

That brings me to today… More on this later maybe.

8 Women Who Bring their A Game (who all have an A in their name)


I wanted to write a blog for International Women’s Day. Perhaps I could talk about some of the amazing trail blazers like Marie Currie, Kate Sheppard, or Emilie du Chatelet.


I’ve written and shared information on these amazing women quite a few times.


Then I thought I’d write about some people I work with in Sustainability and Social Justice sectors… But there’s hundreds of genuinely amazing women to choose from.


Then I thought I’d talk about some friends who have changed my own, and other people’s lives. Well, that’s basically all my friends, and nobody is going to read a 150,000-word blog.


So I am narrowing it down to 8 women who I have spoken to in the past few days, who have an A in their name.


The thing I found as I put this together (narrow selection criteria and all) is that the world is FULL of amazing, wonderful, strong, generous, impactful and miraculous women.


I’ve been in the homes or spoken with every lady on this list over the past couple of days and each and every one of them is inspiring, unique and fantastic.


I have not embellished or even picked the highlights, I simply sat down at the laptop, picked the names based on the criteria, and am sharing a tiny bit of the story I share with these remarkable people.


If there’s two simple things I implore you to glean out of reading this, it is this:


First: YOU ARE ENOUGH. You do enough. You give enough. You’ve done amazing things. We all spend a lot of time trying to measure up to others,cutefeetenough or seeking approval. I was at some point intimidated by every one of these fabulous feminine role models with an A in their name. Today, I stand shoulder to shoulder with all of them and that is how woman around the world should be placing their posture.


Second: Pick 8 women. Write or call. Tell them you Love and appreciate them.


So… Here we go! The women I’m going to tell you about are:


Anita Murell

Emma Land

Ann Miller

Alethea Nathan

Theresa Goertz

Angela Barker

Alix Bachmann

Allie Frater


I’ll start at the top of the list.


Anita and I watched each other saying raw and witty things on parenting forums for years. She is based in Wellington. She is a volunteer firefighter, community advocate, mother to Bryn the beautiful bright boy, wife to the shy but outstandingly sweet Nathan, friend to many, and she works down by the docks and waves to me and checks in on social media whenever I am passing through on a ferry or a ship.


Anita is a giver. Anita is incredibly hard on herself. And Anita spends a lot of time being absolutely exhausted.


There are too many things to that I adore about Anita to mention, but my favourite would be her compassion, her humour, and her ability to get things done. Anita makes me laugh, and even when she’s struggling and treading water, she ALWAYS finds the time to check in with me and see how I am doing.


Emma Land is a marketing and social media firecracker. She posts uplifting, funny, and interesting content that often finds its way to my feed just when I need a little boost.


Emma’s soulmate is a quintessentially extroverted genius man named Daniel. Daniel is how I met Emma. This Christmas, Emma made her lover see a doctor after a variety of complaints and illnesses. After much testing and emergency surgery, Daniel was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer that has spread to his liver.


Today, as I write this, Emma is sitting with him at a hospital while he undergoes Chemo. He is a strong, funny, wonderful 35 year old man, and together they are kicking cancer in the FACE.


Emma is a wonderful women, full of Love and kindness and good humour. And she’s facing a nightmare that most of us can’t fathom. She’s had some of the innumerable kindnesses she’s bestowed on others returned as bosses got baking for her, people check in, and a give a little campaign for Daniel (managed by Emma) raised a very helpful amount of funds.


On the weekends, when it all gets to be too much, Emma bakes. She bakes because she has control of the process, she bakes because it sooths her, she bakes because it is therapeutic. I Love Emma, and I Love her healthy and generous coping strategy.


Ann Miller. This, for anyone who knows me, is a woman who needs no introduction. I call Ann my spirit animal.


Ann is a sharp tongued, HUGE hearted, incredibly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and unmistakably loud lady.


Her and I suffer from similar crazies. The world is big and scary and unfair sometimes, and it finds a way into our heart. Ann has gone vegan recently (always has to outshine me the cow) and she is an incredibly vocal and active in climate change and environmental issues.


Ann’s husband works with my husband. Ann’s daughter is a painfully attractive (and couldn’t care less and would probably punch a boy in the nose if he made a move on her) and fiercely independent young woman who will follow her mother’s path to changing the world and carving out a path doing WHATEVER she pleases.


A few years ago, when Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer, I popped round. We had a real talk about a lot of things on the beach that day. Ann and I aren’t built or wired like other people. I can’t tell you what we spoke about, but I can say, that she is nearly the only person I have ever met as I walk this earth, who truly understands the hurt in my heart about the world sometimes. Many people are empathetic, most of my friends are activists or conduits for change, but there’s something about the way Ann and I feel things that is eerily similar. And I Love her to the moon and back for being her quirky, kind, wonderful self.


Alethea is the beautiful, elegant, kind, witty, gentle younger sister of a boy I dated for around 3 or 4 years in my late teens.


Alethea looking stunning while I try and coax James to look at the camera

I’d travel up to Dargaville every weekend to see him. She was living in the same house for most of the time we were together. He was a really wonderful guy, and the eldest of 7 siblings. Alethea was always “out of my league” as a friend and human. She is the kind of gorgeous, ethereal, graceful creature you’d read about in a Tolkien or Rowling story. She was not mean or dismissive to me (and I was a pain in the ass to be quite fair) and never seemed to look down on me despite the fact she was clearly socially on the A list and I wasn’t ever even going to get my name on the door.


When her brother and I broke up I was sad at losing contact with her. She wasn’t afraid of real talk, and she was just so calming to be around. Her big bro quite wisely threw in the towel on me as he couldn’t handle my crazy, and we’ve both ended up in better places than we might have if we’d stayed together. He seems super happy with gorgeous kids and has conquered some incredibly scary health issues. I met my perfect match in my Grumpy husband.


Alethea has a two-year-old son who is well behaved and beautiful beyond words.


I went up to visit them in Kamo in Northland. She’s battling through some pretty serious health stuff right now too.


I arrived, and was warmly welcomed after 20 years.


We talked a lot about her struggles, but she doesn’t complain or play a victim. She’s met some amazing people and is pursuing a number of avenues and doing everything she can. I just want the pain to leave her well alone while she “keeps on top of this.”


The thing that won’t ever leave me from our visit, is that I was there, after she’d hosted dozen’s of people for her son’s Birthday party the day before, and she’s facing the fight of her life, and she was totally concerned about me. I started crying telling her about recent events, and she cuddled me. She. Cuddled. Me.


I can’t say what it must feel like to be going through what she is, but I can say that she’s got the support and toolkit to keep fighting. A gentle, kind, and graceful toolkit that includes siblings and friends and relatives who have been there for each other through good times and bad. I look forward to seeing her again in a year or two when my schedule clears up again. I won’t cry this time.


Theresa Goertz is my mother. We fight. I fight more with my mom than I do with anyone on earth. She “pushes my buttons” and as far as I can tell I do the same to her.


I’d be lost without her.


Mom has given me music (I was named after Diana Ross) and poetry and movies. When I was a small child and we lived in Scotland, she’d sit next to the big cream coloured bar heater on the wall and tell me stories about how light came to be on the planet. She also gave me my first glimpse into my future. When I was little, she’d also have bouts of depression. I did not understand it, the same way my children do not understand mine. Today, we talk incredibly openly about where we are at and what we are doing to face down the black dog.

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She also dressed me as a suffragette one Halloween and taught me to Love Joan Baez and fight for what I believe. Feminism was never a dirty word or concept. Actually, it just wasn’t a word. I consider my mom to absolutely be a feminist, but it isn’t like she has a T-shirt, she just raised me to be smart, and kind and tough and fight for what I believe in.


She’s also entirely to blame for my travel addiction.


My mom raises our four kids, as much (arguably more) than Phteven and I do.


I care very much what my mom thinks and feels. That’s probably why it feels like she disapproves of me so much. She’s quick to point out any number of the abundant hypocritical realities of my existence (I use too many towels and we waste a lot of food, especially when we entertain for example) and it never feels like she’s quick to tell me that I’ve done a good job.


I’d be lost without her. She’s got a sense of humour that I admire and relate to. She introduced me to Monty Python, Pink Panther movies and Mel Brooks movies, and she sends me some epically funny stuff on Facebook.


We’re off on vacation together in a few weeks, and we have nearly cancelled my joining her twice now due to fights and disagreements, but the truth is, I am looking forward to it. I took my daughter away around the world with me, and it was magic. Spending time with her (and the two younger boys) will be magic.


We’ll fight. But we’ll be making some memories while we do.


Angela Barker is not a woman to be trifled with. Angela Barker survived cancer as a teenager. Angela Barker is not afraid of hard work, or calling a spade a spade. Angela Barker is the matriarch of my best friend since high school’s family.


I saw Ange yesterday, and she’s (quite fabulously IMHO) banning anyone from visiting her and the new baby Jack without having their immunizations up to date. I got an early booster to be extra safe and enjoyed my cuddles very much.


Ange and I went around South America with her family and mine for Christmas 2014. She’d not done a while heap of travel up to that point, but she got out, tried the food, walked the streets and soaked up the whole experience like the life changing adventure it was.

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Buenos Aires… the rain was BUCKETING down

While we were on the boat, her niece Brie was back in Queensland in a coma. The closest thing to a sister Ange has is Brie’s mom Chelsea. Chelsea and ange grew up and had a wealth of stories (which I sometimes got to enjoy) about their sharp-tongued Grandmother, or any number of adventures they and their cousins got up to.


New Year’s day 2016 Chelsea ended her own life. My husband and I flew directly from Canada to Brisbane to be there for the funeral. Ange is not a gushy or overly emotional person, and losing Chelsea will have forever changed her. Today Ange shares memories and photos and plays an active role in Brie’s life. She’s a force to be reckoned with and will not give lip service to anyone.


I Love being a part of hers and Shaun’s and her daughter and son’s lives. They are family to us, and ups and downs and time and distance doesn’t matter too much. Her and Shaun are some of the hardest working folks I have ever known, and they’re raising my goddaughter Olivia to kick some ass. Seriously, she like wins trophies at martial arts and stuff, makes me so proud.


Alix Bachmann is another no nonsense woman. She’s raised her two boys to be incredibly socially and politically aware. I’d say they are total feminists TBH.


I met Alix at University. She was studying for her Masters in Arts Curation or something like this, and I was doing a post graduate diploma in PR.


Alix rolled her eyes at and avoided most of our millennial classmates. I ended up working with her on a project because her assigned partner had some reason for not being able to do the presentation. We owned that presentation. Seriously, we were fabulous.


Alix is about as opposite to me as any human could possibly be. She is soft spoken, non-demonstrative, and logical and pragmatic in all that she does. She’s an A+ Student and conscientious about everything she does.


What we do have in common is our desire to make change and be active in following our passions and fighting for justice and the planet.


She walks her talk and stands her ground, and she’s a woman that I admire and respect (even if I don’t always understand her) a great deal.


LAST (and absolutely NOT least) is my friend Allie.


I was introduced to Allie some number of months ago, and fell deeply and importantly in Love with her immediately. Her brother was nice too, very charismatic, but Allie was my girl.


Allie worked her hands to the bone on a project that meant she became intimately involved in every step of an FMCG business. From making to marketing, from baking to HR, Allie was intimately involved in every step of a business for years.


She’s also passionate about many of the same issues as me. That makes a friendship easier, when you can talk about things, shout about things, and find ways to do something about things.


From feminism to mental health, from the environment to civil rights, we have always got plenty to discuss and rail against together.


So I will end it there.


It might seem long and meandering, but I just picked a handful of women who move me out of thin air and wrote freestyle about them and how they have touched my heart and made my life and the world better.


I’d encourage you to take a moment to do the same thing.


Reach out to 8 women who you think are great, and just say thanks. You’d be amazed at the ripple effect taking the time to do that can have.


Happy Women’s day!


Thanks for Reading.